The Treatment of Civilians During the Conflict Between the Government of the Philippines vs. the Communist Party of the Philippines
How civilians are treated in conflicts is a major question in the field of social science. During times of war, it is important that both the government and rebel groups gain the support of civilians. This can be achieved by either threatening the local population or providing them with goods or services. According to Stathis Kalyvas, targeting civilians in a conflict is a rational calculation that either side makes as a part of zones of control. On the other hand, Jeremy Weinstein argues that civilians are targeted due to group capacity. This paper will elaborate on the two arguments and provide a summary of the conflict between the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Philippine Government (4).
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was formed in 1968 by Jose Maria Sison. Its goal is to overthrow the Philippines government and get rid of the United States influence in the country. However, before the CPP was established, there was the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP), which began during the occupation of Japanese forces during World War II. This anti-Japanese movement joined forces with guerrillas to form a military branch called the Hukbalahap, or the Huk. This military faction not only fought the Japanese, but they also took over abandoned land and redistributed it. After the war, the Philippines gained independence from the United States, and the new government tried to reinstate the ownership of the land to its pre-war owners. This action by the Philippine government led the Huk organization to battle the government, but by the 1960s, the Huk groups fell and the remaining units became criminal bands.
After the establishment of the CPP, its military branch, the New People's Army (NPA) was founded a few months later in 1969, and the group became the CPP-NPA. At the beginning, NPA consisted of just sixty men with nine automatic rifles and twenty-six single-shot rifles. Their first attack was in August of 1971, when three members of the CPP-NPA threw four grenades onto the stage at a political rally killing five of President Marcos's opponents. This led to many people blaming him for the attack (1). According to Kalyvas, groups do not commit these crimes because they are insane. Instead, Kalyvas claims that these actions are calculated and rational. He concludes that barbarism is not a result from the breakdown of social order, rather a function of insecurity that armed rebels face. When these groups become vulnerable, they begin to resort to violence. The CPP was fairly young, so carrying out such a violent act allowed them to gain some recognition (3).
In 1972, the Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law throughout the country due to the Communist rebellion and the unrest between the Muslims and Christians in the south. Stathis Kalyvas insists t...